The First Baptist Christian School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams played their final home games this past week, along with a trip to the Wisconsin Association of Christian School State Tournament.
The Eagles had to play a qualifying game Feb. 24 to make them eligible for state. They hosted Liberty Christian Eagles from Eau Claire, who brought several fans to the game. The Eagle fans were clad in black for “blackout” night and were making quite a bit of noise at the onset of the game.
What was thought to be a competitive game quickly turned into a rout in favor of the home team. FBCS led 12-4 after one quarter and 23-6 at halftime. Midway through the second half, senior Kylee Zempel suffered a knee injury which would prove fatal for the Eagles, as their most important games lay ahead. When the game concluded, the Lady Eagles had secured a trip to the state tournament in Watertown with a 37-19 win. Kate Sathre led the team with 26 points.
The Eagles celebrated Parents Night Feb. 25 at the conclusion of the matchup against the Saints from Faith Christian Academy of Wausau. The girls’ quickly got out of hand, as the Eagles led 13-2 after one quarter and went on to a 27-6 win. Elizabeth Gross led First Baptist with 10 points, followed by Nikki Verhalen with six.
The boys took the floor following the girls’ game. This game against the Saints would prove to be highly entertaining, with the contest being decided in the final 10 seconds. The Eagles came out to start the game with their signature full-court press. They had mixed results, with the Saints turning the ball over at times and at other times, they would break the press with relative ease.
The first quarter concluded with the Eagles leading 21-17. The second quarter saw the battle go back and forth with the Eagles taking a one-point lead to the locker room at the half. Senior Micah Keatterhenry saved his best statistical game for his last home game, helping the Eagles build a five-point lead to end the third quarter. The fourth quarter saw the Eagles’ lead erode, as the Saints came marching back.
As the teams traded three-pointers, the Saints finally took the lead for good late in the game. With the Saints up by three points and time winding down, the Eagles were forced to foul, sending the Saints to the line for bonus free throws.
The Eagles’ only hope was for a missed free throw, rebound and three-pointer. The first free throw came off the rim to the left side. Unfortunately, the Eagles could not secure the rebound and it rolled helplessly out of bounds with 10.3 seconds on the clock. After inbounding the ball, the Saints hoisted an ill-advised three-pointer that went in for a 77-71 win. Mason Gross led First Baptist with 26 points, followed by Ricky Krueger with 20 and Keatterhenry with 13.
The week concluded with the WACS State Tournament, held Feb. 27 to March 1 at Maranatha Baptist Bible University in Watertown.
The tournament included a girls’ tournament and a boys’ tournament consisting of Class A and Class B teams.
Friday’s play started at 9:45 a.m. with the Lady Eagles taking on the Bay City Bobcats from Green Bay. The teams had met earlier in the year, with Bay City winning those matchups.
The Eagles knew it would be a tough fight, as the Bobcats once again had a distinct height advantage with 6-5 center Amber Olsen. The Bobcats also had another advantage, as the Lady Eagles’ Kylee Zempel had suffered a knee injury earlier in the week. While she tried to gut it out, she was clearly not herself and she winced in pain with every cut. Halfway through the first half, Zempel tried to lunge for a ball and went down hard, writhing in pain. This proved to be her last play of the tournament and her season.
With the Eagles struggling to get the ball into the front court, the Bobcats secured a 20-9 halftime lead. While the Eagles made some halftime adjustments to fight back, Bay City remained in control and won 47-24. Sathre led the Lady Eagles with 13 points.
The last game of the day Feb. 28 was a boys’ Class B matchup between FBCS and the Warriors from Kettle Moraine Baptist Academy. The Eagles had won a previous matchup at the Tip-off Classic 71-52.
As usual, the Eagles started with a full-court press to build a 25-7 first quarter lead. Midway through the third quarter, coach Judson Gross had cycled through his entire bench, as the Eagles held a 52-23 lead at the end of three quarters. The final was 56-39. Deacon Zempel led the Eagles in scoring with 16 followed by Gross and Krueger with 15 apiece.
The Eagles played in the consolation game March 1 against the Union Grove Christian School Cougars. These teams had met up about a month earlier in a high-energy game that came down to the last minutes with the Cougars on top.
FBCS came out of the gate with some intensity, posting a 14-9 first quarter lead, but failed to score in the second quarter, resulting in a 24-14 halftime deficit. While spirited in their play, the Lady Eagles once again missed Zempel’s leadership. The Cougars defeated the Eagles 47-31. Sathre led the Eagles with 10 points, while Verhalen and Sarah Reinke added nine each.
Later in the afternoon, the boys took the floor in the Class B championship game against Utica Christian School.
The Eagles and Defenders had met earlier in the year at the Tip-off Classic as well, with the Eagles winning both games by a 69-24 score.
The Eagles came out a bit sluggish, as the Defenders posted the first six points on the scoreboard. It was all Eagles after that, however, as FBCS led 39-18 at halftime and won the game by 45 points.
Hans Jensen led the Eagles with 14 points.
Calvary Baptist of Menominee Falls won the Class A tournament. First Baptist Christian School played the Class A champs three times this year, winning two of those matchups.
Individual awards for the Eagles for the year and tournament include Kylee Zempel, all-state girls’ team; Sathre, all-state girls’ team honorable mention and all-tournament team; Mason Gross, Class B all-state boys’ team and all-tournament team; Jensen, Class B all-state boys’ team and all-tournament team; and Deacon Zempel, Class B all-state boys’ team honorable mention and all-tournament team.